Ananda K. Coomaraswamy

A key reference article by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy on the yakshas, the tutelary deities or patron-saints of nature in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain lore. Foremost among them is Kubera, Regent of the North, and they indicate the intimate connection between spirits and trees and other forces of nature. Yakshas are worshipped with oblations, dance and song, with the sound of musical instruments, or food and strong liquor, incense, and cloths, and with the use of bells, the singing of hymns, or the presentation of dramas dealing with the Lila of the deity. Yakshas serve the ends of edification, either as guardians and defenders of the faith, or to be pointed to as horrible examples of depravity.

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Original publication in the Smithsonian miscellaneous collections series, vol. 80, no. 6, 1928.